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Calls Rise for Resignation of South African Athletics Official Over Gender Case



South Africa's top athletics official is in danger of losing his job. The government's sports ministry and major political parties have called for him to be removed for lying about controversial gender tests on world champion runner Caster Semenya.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has condemned the way the governing Athletics South Africa handled the case of runner Caster Semenya. International media reports raised questions about Semenya's sexual characteristics after she won the women's 800-meter championship last month in Berlin.

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe Sunday, said ASA head Leonard Chuene should be punished.

"We think it was disgusting. The new facts that come to the fore now reflect that ASA did not handle that matter with the necessary honesty and transparency," Mantashe said. "And therefore our view is that the ASA should censure [punish] the officials who were involved in that matter."

South Africa's Deputy-Sports Minister Gert Oosthuizen called for the Athletics South Africa to dismiss Chuene after he admitted that he had lied when he denied that gender tests had been performed on Semenya in South Africa before she traveled to Berlin.

"I believed at that time that my consistent denial would help to protect her. That is what I believed," Chuene said. "I have, however, realized that it was an error of judgment and that I could have been forthcoming with this information."

Chuene also admitted that he had ignored a request from the ASA team doctor to withdraw Semenya from the championships because the tests needed to be kept confidential. But he refused to resign.

South Africans were angered when an Australian newspaper published reports based on allegedly leaked test results that showed the star athlete to have both female and male characteristics.

The International Association of Athletics Federations refused to confirm or deny the reports, saying the results would be announced next month.

South Africa's major opposition parties, including Democratic Alliance Spokesman Donald Lee, called for Chuene to resign.

"He did not protect our interest there and the interest of this young girl," Lee said. "He destroyed her life totally, but he did not care about that either."

Similar cases of what is called inter-sexuality have occurred previously in the world of athletics. But the South African public has been particularly angered over the breach of confidentiality in this case and the pain it has caused the 18-year-old runner and her family, which lives in a small village in northeastern Limpopo Province.

Semenya was due to run in a cross-country race last week, but withdrew. Her coach said she was not feeling well.

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